AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT grant appeals system should be set up, the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming has said.
Deputy Fleming made the call after establishing that the new student grant processing system, SUSI, is currently not covered by the office of the Ombudsman.
Deputy Fleming said he had contacted the Ombudsman’s office this week after receiving a number of complaints about SUSI from students.
He said that the students who were allegedly given wrong information cannot have their cases investigated independently by the Ombudsdman, which investigates complaints relating to a number of public bodies. SUSI will not come under the Ombudsman’s remit until next May.
“The Ombudsman will only be able to deal with problems that arise after next May, and will not be able to investigate any of the problems that arose in the current academic year,” he said. In the meantime, the students have only the option of an internal process of appeals available to them, he added.
Deputy Fleming is now calling on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to immediately establish an administrative (non-legislative) independent appeals and complaints mechanism on a temporary basis to cover the period until SUSI comes under the Ombudsman’s remit.